GLOUCESTER enjoys some of the cheapest house prices in the county – and mortgages are easier to get in the city – according to new figures.
The average house in the city will set potential homeowners back to the tune of £154,130 compared £252,353 in Cheltenham, and even more in the Cotswolds.
Average house prices are also higher in the Forest of Dean, Stroud and Tewkesbury.
But future homeowners will be buoyed by news that it is also easier to get a mortgage in the city than anywhere else in Gloucestershire.
The only setback in the findings by the National Housing Federation is that Gloucester’s average income of £19,334 is lower than everywhere else in the county, except for the Cotswolds.
Estate agent Wayne Appleby, from Steve Gooch Estate Agents, said: “There are really good links to the M5 and there’s the railway and bus stations and these really matter to people when buying a property.
“Gloucester is a really good place to buy a house. There is a real sense at the moment that it is up and coming with all the new developments such as the Quays, the cinema, the new restaurants. It is only going to get better as well.”
Council bosses admit they need to keep working hard to increase the availability of homes for city residents.
A new housing strategy was approved by the city council’s cabinet last week. Councillor Colin Organ, cabinet member for housing, said: “I am keen to see inner city regeneration rather than urban sprawl, with an emphasis on our needy areas. We need to have quality housing in the right places.”
Council leader Paul James added: “Housing is an issue which impacts on so many other things such as health and the economy. We have got to provide the right housing to go with the jobs. Housing is very important in providing the social mobility that we need.”
The action plan cannot come quick enough with the city’s population estimated to increase from 121,000 three years ago to 129,000 in 2016 and more than 13,5000 by 2021.
Some 34,000 people in the city either own their house outright or have a mortgage. That is 67 per cent of the population, compared to 64 per cent nationally.
A huge appetite for new housing in Gloucester means that the city has been earmarked for 13,100 new homes. Some 1,521 affordable homes have been built since 2005.
Around 300 new city centre properties will be completed by mid-2015 at the Greyfriars Quarter, on the former Gloscat college site. Barry Leach, chairman of the Gloucester City Centre Community Partnership, said: “It will be good to get more people living in the city centre. It will have an economic benefit for Gloucester.”
COMPARISON AROUND THE COUNTY
Gloucester: average house price £154,130; average income £19,334; gross annual income needed for a mortgage £35,230; ratio of house prices to income 8.0
Stroud: average house price £235,236; average income £21,856; gross annual income needed for a mortgage £53,768; ratio of house prices to income 10.8
Forest of Dean: average house price £190,927; average income £21,559; gross annual income needed for a mortgage £43,640; ratio of house prices to income 8.9
Cheltenham: average house price £252,353; average income £22,682; gross annual income needed for a mortgage £57,681; ratio of house prices to income 11.1
Tewkesbury: average house price £226,632; average income £19,916; gross annual income needed for a mortgage £51,802; ratio of house prices to income 11.4
Cotswolds: average house price £336,935; average income £18,762; gross annual income needed for mortgage £77,014; ratio of house prices to income 18.0
CASE STUDY: FIRST TIME BUYERS
RISING house prices mean that first time buyers Gemma Holmes and partner Michael Green cannot buy their dream home near where they work in Gloucester.
Instead they are having to set up their first home in Longhope, leaving 22-year-old Gemma with a 10-mile daily commute to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital where she works as a nurse.
The couple are looking for a three-bedroom house to accommodate their future family – they already have their five-week-old daughter Matilda.
But in Gloucester they were facing prices of £250,000 compared to £160,000 in Longhope.
Gemma said: “We are privately renting in Longford at the moment. We had hoped to stay in the Longlevens area because we really like it here and it is so close to work for both of us, but it is just so expensive.
“We started looking last year and already in a year the prices have gone up.
“We’ve got one little one and we are looking for a three-bed house but comparing Gloucester to Longhope there is such a huge difference.
“Gloucester has really good links to the M5 and it is a city whereas Longhope is further away and there are less amenities so I can see why there is such a difference.
“But it means my cost of living will go up because I’m going to be spending a lot more in petrol every day to get to work. Child care will also be harder to organise as well.”
The pair have put an offer on a house and they are hoping that they can move into their first home come June or July time.
But if there is one thing that Gemma has taken away from the whole experience it is that it has been an ‘absolute nightmare’.